February 13, 2015
When I first started running I didn’t have any proper running kit, I didn’t even think to buy any at the time as I figured any kind of workout gear would do…and to be quite honest the frequency and intensity of my running in the early days never really justified the expense.
I do remember the first race event shirt I got though, it was for the British 10K and it was a unisex thick cotton t-shirt, in a L (I was at least an XL at the time) with one sleeve red and the other blue…when I look back at the pictures its no wonder my face was bright red, partly because of how hot running in the bleeding thing made me, but secondly because of how embarrassed I was to be wearing such an ill fitting unattractive item whilst struggling to cover the distance in my first running event.
Over the years my running wardrobe has improved slightly, particularly since brands have started sending me things to test, but believe me I still make mistakes when it comes to buying kit. I can’t afford to buy some of the more expensive brands and as a taller than average size 18 lady its difficult to get nice looking tops that don’t ride up to your chest, or hug you so tight your cellulite shows.
I always wonder if slimmer runners have a similar drawer of unused running tops in their homes? Or do they simply invest in one or two really nice well fitting items and get on with things.
Having kit that fits is not just nice for us larger ladies its vital to our continued participation in the sport. If you are worrying about what you look like or having to tug at your top every five minutes to save your modesty, how the hell are you supposed to focus on your actual running, yet many large scale running outfits still do not cater for the larger runner.
When I decided to launch my own range of hoodies and tshirts last summer, I thought it would be easy, find a supplier, choose a colour, design a logo and bobs your uncle, but what I found was that in the UK you are limited to what you can procure in terms of sizes. In womens fit technical race tops you are lucky to find a XL which equates to a 16, in mens you can go up to a size 4XL but only if you want white, navy or black. But I don’t want to wear white, navy or black…I want to wear bright vibrant colours so I can be seen by traffic, and more importantly match my shoes to my outfit (only kidding)
So I realised quite soon that my dream of providing high quality attractive looking kit for ladies up to a UK size 28 was going to be difficult, and on the budgets I have to work with perhaps even impossible. But rather than sit back and say its simply too hard, I pressed on and ordered stock in the sizes I could find whilst continuing to campaign strategically for change.
For me to be able to reach my goal I need a financial backer, a team of experts with manufacturing, procurement, branding and international distribution experience…but instead I have me, a laptop and a budget of about £600 to restock.
But I am not moaning.
Our original Too Fat to Run merchandise did exactly what I wanted it to do, on a financial level it enabled me to raise money to reinvest into other areas of the business, like redeveloping parts of the website and getting much needed systems in place, but it also enabled me to make a visual statement about the issues and barriers we face as plus sized women. I wanted the branded kit to enable women to feel like they are finally part of a community, and I also wanted to test the market and get feedback from the people that matter most, so its kind of sad that he initial order of 500 units is almost finished.
I know that not every overweight woman wants to run around their neighbourhood in a top with the phrase Too Fat to Run blazoned across their chest which is why we are changing the slogan, but at the same time some of you ladies tell me that the tops have empowered you and given you confidence to run regardless of what people think.
It makes me feel like I’m letting other women who may be intimidated by my running know thats its ok to be who you are and still enjoy a sport like running
I feel it spurs me on as I don’t want to be seen walking in it
Empowered and a bit naughty, I love watching peoples reaction to it
This weekend we are having a stock clearance sale with up to 50% of the remaining stock, to make room for the new designs which will be coming out in the spring. Check out what we have left in our shop with prices starting at £10
We have been running a survey to find out what our customers would like to see in the new range, and you even get to vote for your favourite colours and slogans, so click here if you want to give your views.
Wearing a race vest with your clubs name on it is not just about identity, its about pride, its about belonging its about being valued, yet when you are a large lady that runs often you simply wear what fits, often in dark colours, cheap material and in mens sizes…how on earth are you supposed to feel good about yourself.
I don’t have all the answers yet, but I sure as hell am going to continue fighting the cause.
So come on ladies, tell me about your T shirt dilemmas, experiences, nightmares…and if you have a Too Fat to Run tshirt, vest or hoodie, tell us how it makes you feel.